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Charles Li: How Hong Kong is logging market records in the face of China and US tension

Everything points to intense pressure for Hong Kong’s markets: global pandemic, geopolitics, local unrest. Yet HKEX just had a record first half. Its chief executive explains why.


Hong Kong is amid a perfect storm of difficulty. As if a global pandemic was not enough to deal with, the city state also has to deal with local unrest and the geopolitical tensions between the two markets that matter most to its economy, mainland China and the US.

Which begs the question: how is it that Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing logged record levels of revenue and income in the first half, with high cash market turnover and the second largest number of IPOs in the world during that period?

Charles Li, the chief executive of HKEX since 2010, admits to some surprise to the way markets have behaved under the pandemic.

“A pandemic of this scale, which has completely shut down the global economy, shut down global travel, with us all trapped and working from home – you would have thought that would bring a devastating impact on the market,” he says, speaking to Euromoney in a one-on-one interview to open the Trading Asia conference run by Global Investor Group, a Euromoney company.

It did at first, he says, “but six, seven months later markets are smashing records left and right”.


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